Page:A book of myths.djvu/35

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9
PROMETHEUS AND PANDORA

the smell of the unclean thing, and again with fierce beak and talons the vulture greedily began its work.

Thirty thousand years was the time of his sentence, and yet Prometheus knew that at any moment he could have brought his torment to an end. A secret was his—a mighty secret, the revelation of which would have brought him the mercy of Zeus and have reinstated him in the favour of the all-powerful god. Yet did he prefer to endure his agonies rather than to free himself by bowing to the desires of a tyrant who had caused Man to be made, yet denied to Man those gifts that made him nobler than the beasts and raised him almost to the heights of the Olympians. Thus for him the weary centuries dragged by—in suffering that knew no respite—in endurance that the gods might have ended. Prometheus had brought an imperial gift to the men that he had made, and imperially he paid the penalty.

"Three thousand years of sleep-unsheltered hours.
"And moments aye divided by keen pangs
"Till they seemed years, torture and solitude,
"Scorn and despair,—these are mine empire.
"More glorious far than that which thou surveyest
"From thine unenvied throne, O, Mighty God!
"Almighty, had I deigned to share the shame
"Of thine ill tyranny, and hung not here
"Nailed to this wall of eagle-baffling mountain.
"Black, wintry, dead, unmeasured; without herb.
"Insect, or beast, or shape or sound of life.
"Ah me! alas, pain, pain ever, for ever! "

Titan! to whose immortal eyes
The sufferings of mortality
Seen in their sad reality,